The Social Value of Mortality Risk Reduction: VSL vs. the Social Welfare Function Approach
AbstractWe examine how different welfarist frameworks evaluate the social value of mortality riskreduction. These frameworks include classical, distributively unweighted cost-benefit analysis—i.e., the “value per statistical life” (VSL) approach—and three benchmark social welfare functions (SWF): a utilitarian SWF, an ex ante prioritarian SWF, and an ex post prioritarian SWF. We examine the conditions on individual utility and on the SWF under which these frameworks display the following five properties: i) wealth sensitivity, ii) sensitivity to baseline risk, iii) equal value of risk reduction, iv) preference for risk equity, and v) catastrophe aversion. We show that the particular manner in which VSL ranks risk-reduction measures is not necessarily shared by other welfarist frameworks, and we identify when the use of an ex ante or an ex post approach has different implications for risk policymaking.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) in its series TSE Working Papers with number 12-292.
Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Value of statistical life; social welfare functions; cost-benefit analysis; equity;
Other versions of this item:
- Adler, Matthew & Hammitt, James & Treich, Nicolas, 2012. "The Social Value of Mortality Risk Reduction: VSL vs. the Social Welfare Function Approach," IDEI Working Papers 709, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
- Adler, Matthew & Hammitt, James & Treich, Nicolas, 2012. "The Social Value of Mortality Risk Reduction: VSL vs. the Social Welfare Function Approach," LERNA Working Papers 12.08.365, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
- D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
- D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
- D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
- Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2000. "On the Value of Life in Rich and Poor Countries and Distributional Weights Beyond Utilitarianism," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 17(3), pages 299-310, November.
- Somanathan, E., 2006.
"Valuing lives equally: Distributional weights for welfare analysis,"
Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 122-125, January.
- E.Somanathan, 2003. "Valuing lives equally: Distributional weights for welfare analysis," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 03-02, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
- Ben-Porath, Elchanan & Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1997. "On the Measurement of Inequality under Uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 194-204, July.
- James Hammitt & Nicolas Treich, 2007.
"Statistical vs. identified lives in benefit-cost analysis,"
Journal of Risk and Uncertainty,
Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 45-66, August.
- HAMMITT James K & TREICH Nicolas, 2006. "Statistical vs. Identified Lives in Benefit-Cost Analysis," LERNA Working Papers 06.11.204, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
- James K. Hammitt & Nicolas Treich, 2007. "Statistical vs. Identified Lives in Benefit-Cost Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 1931, CESifo Group Munich.
- Samuel Fankhauser & Richard Tol & DAVID Pearce, 1997. "The Aggregation of Climate Change Damages: a Welfare Theoretic Approach," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 10(3), pages 249-266, October.
- Marc Fleurbaey, 2007.
"Assessing Risky Social Situations,"
IDEP Working Papers
0703, Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France, revised Jan 2007.
- Ralph L. Keeney, 1980. "Utility Functions for Equity and Public Risk," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(4), pages 345-353, April.
- Pratt, John W & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1996. "Willingness to Pay and the Distribution of Risk and Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 747-63, August.
- Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
- Ulph, Alistair, 1982. "The role of ex ante and ex post decisions in the valuation of life," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 265-276, July.
- Rachel Baker & Susan Chilton & Michael Jones-Lee & Hugh Metcalf, 2008. "Valuing lives equally: Defensible premise or unwarranted compromise?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 125-138, April.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.